Sanlam enjoys high returns on its all-flash acceleration

Digital Reinvention
30/01/2024 Article

Founded in 1918 and headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, Sanlam has evolved from a life insurance company into a diversified global financial services group. With a century of experience, Sanlam is now Africa's largest insurance and non-banking financial services provider, operating in 44 countries and establishing itself as one of the world's prominent international insurance groups.

Recognizing the imperative value of digital technologies, Sanlam embarked on a strategic growth plan to consistently upgrade its technological infrastructure. Group Technology Chief Information Officer (CIO) Theo Mabaso emphasized the importance of digital transformation in adapting to evolving market dynamics. Mabaso highlighted the potential of digital technologies in enhancing customer intimacy, precision in pricing and underwriting, connectivity with partners and marketplaces, and the exploration of new markets.

Facing operational challenges in August 2019, Sanlam's traditional storage architecture on the live network experienced issues, leading to disruptions with serious consequences. High average latency adversely affected the Database and Data Warehouse Service Departments, causing a dramatic decrease in the efficiency of the Operations Analysis Department. In response to escalating customer expectations in the digital era, Sanlam sought to upgrade its Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) database service systems to ensure better storage performance and lower latency.

Over a 12-month period, the legacy storage system strained, risking data loss for customer production systems. Compounded by the lackluster support from the legacy equipment provider, Sanlam received negative feedback from customers, prompting a search for a more reliable partner. The criteria included improving storage reliability, proactive engagement with customers regarding controller faults, and implementing data recovery for two data centers.

Sanlam chose to collaborate with Huawei due to the company's diligence and commitment. Huawei's OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage system proved instrumental in addressing business challenges, exceeding IOPS requirements, and providing advanced features like deduplication, compression, snapshot, and remote replication. The resultant four-fold improvement in the efficiency of the operation analysis system showcased the impact of advanced storage performance.

The deployment of OceanStor Dorado not only met Sanlam's performance needs but also significantly reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Two sets of OceanStor Dorado replaced four sets of the old system, reducing floor space requirements and energy consumption by 60%. A flexible, centralized storage platform consolidated resources, simplifying overall planning, leading to substantial time and cost savings.

Huawei OceanStor Dorado's reliability, supporting RAID-TP and 1 + 1 redundancy, ensured service continuity with swift switchover in case of controller failures. Synchronous replication data recovery programs and a 24/7 helpline further reassured Sanlam, supported by a local warehouse in Cape Town for rapid parts delivery.

Mabaso expressed his satisfaction with the transformative effects of technology disruptions, emphasizing the significance of creating substantial value for the business. Sanlam's operational analysis system, operating four times faster, stands as a testament to the advanced performance of Huawei storage.

With operations streamlined, Sanlam is poised to maintain its track record of outperforming the cost of capital rate. Beyond immediate gains, the collaboration with Huawei establishes a solid foundation for future storage and network development. Huawei and Sanlam are actively cultivating a global strategic partnership to expand their influence in the industry, creating new value collaboratively.

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